Early Life

Tanni was born on 26th July 1969 in Cardiff, Wales and christened 'Carys Davina'. When her two-year-old sister, Sian, first sees her, she nicknamed her 'tiny', and very shortly afterwards it becomes Tanni.

Tanni attended Birchgrove Primary School in Cardiff and was determined to find out for herself what she could and could not do. Tanni's parents were always supportive and encouraged her independent streak. After a long battle with the local authority they were able to secure a place at mainstream school.  Tanni attended St Cyres Comprehensive in Penarth and it was here that she first discovered an interest in sports.

After trying a range of sports Tanni realised at age 13 that Wheelchair Racing was her sport of choice. In her last year as a junior athlete she won the Junior National title over 100m and at 17 she became part of the British Wheelchair Racing Squad.

Sporting Career

Her Tanni's first Paralympics was Seoul in 1988, where she won a bronze medal in the 400m.

In 1992 she claimed victory in the London Wheelchair Marathon, the first of six wins over her career and then went on to the Barcelona Paralympics, where she won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800 metres and a silver in the 4x100m relay. It was at Barcelona that Tanni became the first women to break the 60 second barrier for 400m.

Tanni won the 800 metres gold in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics along with three silver medals in the 100, 200 and 400 metres.

At the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, Tanni returned won another four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800 metres.

Her final Paralympic Games as an athlete was Athens 2004, where she won gold in the 100m and 400m taking her medal tally to 11 golds.

Her total Paralympic Medal tally is 11 gold, 4 silvers and 1 bronze and added to that 5 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals at World Championships.

Over her career, Tanni broke 30 World Records on the track and her personal bests are - 

100m - 16.70 - 2003 Swiss Nationals

200m - 29.77 - 1996 Atlanta Open

400m - 56.28 - 2003 Swiss Nationals

800m - 1.53.35 - 1996 Atlanta Paralympics 

1500m - 3.35.15 - 1998 Swiss Nationals

5000m - 12.32.61 - 1998 Swiss Nationals

10km - 24.03 - 1994 Mobile, California

Half marathon -  52.17 - 1997 Great North Run


Present Day

Tanni married Dr Ian Thompson on 1st May 1999 at St John's Church, Cardiff followed by a honeymoon in Sempach, Switzerland as it was good for training.

Daughter Carys was born in February 2002.  At the age of 2 she saw her mum win her last two gold medals at the Athens Paralympic Games and was often seen at the side of the track supporting her mum and dad whenever they competed. These days Carys herself is involved in sport and Tanni and Ian have become the taxi drivers and support team.

Tanni has continued to be involved in sport and physical activity.  She is a Board Member of the London Marathon, the Sportsaid Foundation, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and Join In. In addition to this she is also a Board Member of several organisations including Transport for London, the London Legacy Development Corporation and the London 2017 Organising Committee.

In 2010 Tanni became an  Independent Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords, taking the title Baroness Grey-Thompson of Eaglescliffe in the County of Durham.  As a working peer Tanni uses her experience and knowledge during debates in the House and she has spoken on a range of issues including Disability Rights, Welfare Reform, and of course, Sport.



1991 - Loughborough University, BA Politics and Social Administration


Honorary Degrees

Tanni has been awarded a combination of honorary degrees from the following Academic Institutions.

2015- Glasgow University

2013 - Oxford University

2011 - University of East London, Hon Masters

2010 - Bath University, Hon Doctor of Laws

2005 - Newcastle University, Hon Doctor

           Oxford Brookes University, Hon Doctor

           Liverpool John Moores, Hon fellowship

           Leicester University, Hon Doctor of Laws

           Sheffield Hallam University, Hon Doctor of the University

           University of Hull, Hon Doctor of Science

2004 - University of Exeter, Doctor of Laws

           Herriot Watt University, Doctor of Laws

          Open University, Doctor of the University

2003 - University of Wales, Newport, Hon Doctor

2002 - University of Wales, Doctor of Laws

2001 - Leeds Metropolitan University, Hon Doctor

           Loughborough University, Honorary Doctor

           Teesside University, Hon Masters

           York and Ripon College, Hon Doctor

           University of Swansea, Fellowship of the University

           University of Glamorgan, Chancellors Medal

           UWIC, Hon fellowship

2000 - University of Surrey, St Mary’s, Doctor of the University

1998 - Southampton University, Hon Doctor of the School of Business

           Manchester Metropolitan University, Hon MA

           Staffordshire University, Hon Doctor of Sport

1997 - Cardiff University, Hon Fellow

1994 - Loughborough University, Hon MA



Tanni has received numerous accolades and awards in recognition of her Paralympic and sporting achievements.


Named as Chancellor of Northumbria University


St David's Awards Winner


Appointed to the House of Lords as a Crossbench peer


Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Awarded Honorary Freedom of the Borough of Redcar and Cleveland


BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year (also 1992, 2000)


Awarded Honorary Freedom of the City and County of Cardiff

Inducted in to the BWSF Hall of Fame


Voted ‘UK Sporting Hero’ by UK SPORT
Elected to the Laureus World Sport Academy


Sunday Times Sports Woman of the Year, Helen Rollason Award
BBC Sports Personality of the Year – Helen Rollason Award (2000)
Sportswriters Award
Welsh Woman of the Year Award
Welsh Sportswoman of the Year
Best Welsh Sportswoman of 50 years
Pride of Britain – Special Award


Awarded MBE
Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year
Sports Writers Association female disabled athlete of the year